Feeds

Google tool lets you share data from BEYOND the GRAVE

'If you're reading this, I must be dead'

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Between Google search, GMail, YouTube, and other sites, a vast number of internet users now access Google services every day. So it makes some sense that the Chocolate Factory has implemented a new system that lets you tell it how long you need to have stopped Googling before it assumes you must be dead.

Dubbed the Inactive Account Manager, the new feature allows Google account holders to specify automated steps for the online giant to take if they should conspicuously drop offline – presumably into the hereafter.

"Not many of us like thinking about death – especially our own," Google product manager Andreas Tuerk wrote in a blog post on Thursday. "But making plans for what happens after you're gone is really important for the people you leave behind."

The feature, which is available now and is configurable from the settings page of any Google account, lets you set the duration of inactivity that must pass before Google starts measuring your virtual coffin.

The choices aren't exactly fine grained. The minimum timeout is three months and the maximum is a year. Once the feature is enabled, Google says it will issue you an alert via mobile phone or email one month before your chosen deadline elapses, to give you one last chance to let it know you don't want to go on the cart.

Assuming your account remains silent, Google can initiate several actions at your prior request. First, it can notify up to ten people of your demise via email – and you can draft a custom-crafted message for each, so have fun with that.

Optionally, you can also share your data from Google services with your ten trusted contacts. Types of data you can choose to offer include your mail, contacts, Google+ stream and circles, YouTube videos, Picasa web albums, and files from Google Drive, to name a few. You can even share your feeds from Google Reader – which, ironically, is itself deceased.

Your contacts have just three months to access your data before it's locked up for good, and as an additional security measure, they'll need a verification code to access your accounts. Google will send them the code via their mobile phones, so you'll need to make sure you know their phone numbers to activate this part of the service (and you'd better hope they don't change).

Finally, after all your other requested actions have been completed, you can have Google delete your account. This will erase all of your data from all of the Googly services you use; you can't delete your Gmail but preserve your YouTube videos for posterity, for example. Everything goes.

Here at El Reg, we think this is a valuable service and it should give some solace to people who worry about just what will happen to the growing pile of data they've stored in Google's cloud once they've passed on.

But, as even Google's Tuerk pointed out in his blog post, "Inactive Account Manager" just doesn't have the right ring to it for such a – ahem – grave matter. Can Reg readers come up with a better name for the Chocolate Factory's latest feature? Post your suggestions in the Comments. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.